It has been a bad week for the Ministry of Defence. And even with the hoopla at Westminster over lobbying and the multi-coloured smoke signals from COP26, it has not been able to bury the bad news.
On Monday we got the publication of the Public Accounts Committee Report on “Improving the performance of major defence equipment contracts”. The committee under the redoubtable Dame Meg Hillier MP did not mince its words. The system of defence procurement is “broken” and probably has been for years. Nine out of the top 13 major equipment procurements are on amber or even red signals – Whitehall-speak for saying they are hitting or have hit the buffers. Some cannot be rescued.
This has produced a needless cost to taxpayers of billions. Last year the Defence Department was awarded a real increase in its budget of £16.5 billion. The Public Accounts Committee states that there is no guarantee that this won’t be used to plug existing gaps in the accounts, or squandered further on existing programmes.